History of Academic Regalia
In America, the first uniform code for academic regalia was established in 1895. This set of rules governed the appearance of the three basic parts in the academic costume - caps, gown and hood. This code is still in effect today.
The cap is generally the mortarboard or Oxford style, but a soft cap similar to a beret can be worn. The tassel may be any one of the three different colors - black, the color representative of the major field of learning in which the degree was earned, or gold metallic thread. The tassel may be worn on either side of the cap.
The gowns are black, may vary in materials and fullness, and are of three basic types. The bachelor's gown is of deceptively simple design, but with a fairly elaborate yoke and long pointed sleeves. The master's gown is similar to that of the bachelor's except for the sleeves that open at the wrist and contain an extra square-ended swatch of cloth that hangs from the sleeve. The doctor's gown is more elaborate that the former two gowns because this gown is adorned with velvet panels down the front and around the neck. The doctor's gown also has three bars running perpendicular to and on the sleeve. These bars, along with the paneling, may be different in color to indicate the major field of learning from which the degree was award. the gown itself may also be of various ornamental colors.
The hood is the most symbolic piece of dress attire. Within the maze of colors on the hood, one must be able to distinguish the level of degree, the major field of learning in which the degree was awarded, and the institution from which the degree was confirmed. The master's and doctor's hoods are three and one-half feet long and four feet long, respectively. The all-encompassing velvet trim is likewise two, three and five inches, respectively. The variations in color are used to denote the different major fields of learning. The lining of the hood is worn exposed to show colors of each school awarding degrees. Most schools have a two-color pattern; to further differentiate schools whose colors are alike or very similar, chevrons, bars or pales are used rather than the total lining.